Oshiomhole attacks IGP as factional APC rally flops
•I was not detained in my house —APC chairman •15 shot as youths ‘enforce’ police’s order
THE National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday lashed out at the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, blaming him for the abortion of a rally which his faction of the party planned to hold in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Adamu had on Thursday ordered the suspension of the rally, organised to welcome a former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his loyalists to the APC, citing “overriding internal security interests.”
The police’s suspension of the rally, which was contained in a letter addressed to the Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shaibu and signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, ACP Idowu Owohunwa, came a few hours after a threat from Edo Youth vanguard (EYV) and a protest by thousands of youths loyal to the APC in the state against the planned mega rally.
The state police command positioned its officers in strategic places around Benin City, including the proposed venue of the rally at Garrick Memorial College, Ekenwan Road, to enforce the IGP’s order.
Some APC youths turned back and dispersed artistes and musicians contracted to perform at the rally, including supporters of the party’s national chairman, Oshiomhole, who expressed disappointments.
An APC member said, “Hundreds of APC youths mobilised themselves as early as 6.00 a.m. and ensured that the directive of the IGP was not flouted in anyway.
“The OB Van [Outside Broadcast Van] of some television stations that were scheduled to transmit the rally live were left stranded.
“Even the youths dispersed the little crowd who gathered under the erected white canopies and the artistes who were brought from outside the state left disappointed. It was all a big,” the source said.
It was observed that with the uncertainty and apprehension, some supporters of Oshiomhole took to the residence of Ize-Iyamu who was the PDP governorship candidate in 2014, where he briefly addressed the left-over crowd, symbolically defected to the APC in his compound and dispersed them.
The police kept surveillance on Oshiomhole’s residence all through on Friday morning to ensure that the IGP’s directive was not flouted.
I was not placed under house arrest –Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole however, denied being placed under house arrest by the police to prevent him from attending the reception for Pastor Ize-Iyamu to the APC.
He said, “They already planted a story from Government House, saying I was under house arrest. You can see the other ways they want to make me look like the proverbial he-goat that is sacrificed if a child is sick to make him healthy and which is also used for celebration.”
Oshiomhole, who spoke with journalists at his Benin residence, gave reasons for staying away from the rally.
According to him, as the national chairman of his party, he had to pay the price by keeping away from the rally which eventually held at Ize-Iyamu’s residence so as to prevent being framed for alleged planned killing of people.
He accused the IGP and the state police command of fueling the tension which gripped the state in the run-up to the rally, adding that he wrote a letter to the IGP notifying him of his intention to attend the rally only for him to withdraw the permit same day under curious circumstances.
Flanked by Ize-Iyamu and other party bigwigs, Oshiomhole said: “I am embarrassed as the national chairman that the IGP will write me a letter informing me of the strength of my application, in which I informed him of our intention to do a rally. We informed the police not for licence but so that they can justify their salary by coming to maintain peace.
“It is not for them to grant permission. I thought as national chairman, I should be formal. I delivered the letter which I signed myself and hand-delivered. The IGP said he directed the Edo police to provide security. What I do not understand is how the same police could be alleged to send a letter to deputy governor Shaibu that the rally would not hold.
“The state chapter invited me to attend the rally. I do not understand how the police IG will write me in the morning and write to another person without getting back to me to say that the rally would not hold. It is something I need to find out when I get back to Abuja.”
Oshiomhole predicted a landslide for the party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
A factional chairman of the APC in the state, David Imuse, formally welcomed Ize-Iyamu into the party and presented him and his supporters with a broom, which is the APC’s symbol.
Imuse did the presentation in company with other party leaders on Friday at the residence of Ize-Iyamu, instead of the earlier announced venue, at Garrick Memorial School’s playground in Benin City.
He said the coming of Ize-Iyamu and his supporters from the 18 local government areas of the state into the APC was a homecoming worthy of celebration and that it would add value to the party.
“We are here to celebrate the homecoming of our brothers and sisters from the PDP who have come to add value to our party; not only to add value, they are coming to make our party grow from strength to strength so that we can win at all levels,” he said.
Imuse asked those who he said were sitting on the fence to come and join the party, saying that as a party with a large heart, the APC was open to all.
Ize-Iyamu said the notion that he was joining the APC in Benin City was wrong because he had already done so as required by the party’s regulations at his Ugboko ward in Orhionnwon Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 15 persons were shot on Thursday night following a violent clash by opposing members of the ruling APC in the state
The state deputy governor, Shaibu, who was accompanied by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Osarodion Ogie; the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Taiwo Akerele and other top government officials, visited the victims.
The victims, who occupied Main Street, Airport Road, were reportedly shot by security operatives in a bid to clear the youths who made bonfires on the road as early as 9.00 a.m. on Friday.
Details of the violent clash were still sketchy as of the time of filing this report but a source said that the security operatives opened fire on the protesters who had vowed to disrupt Friday’s rally organised to welcome Ize-Iyamu.
Shaibu gave the assurance that the government would take care of the medical bills.
Some men had in the early hours of Thursday taken over the Benin Airport shooting sporadically. Bonfires were observed at strategic places in Benin City, while roads leading to the residence of the party’s chairman were blocked with heavy-duty vehicles.
It took Oshiomhole and other members of the party’s National Working Committee more than an hour to get to his residence after soldiers came to disperse the men.